Ten out of ten as Oban Saints dump Ar­gyll ri­vals

‘ We pressed high up the park and never let their de­fence set­tle on the ball’

The Oban Times - - Sport -

Oban Saints 10 Camp­bel­town Pupils 0 SAFL Premier Di­vi­sion

TWO goals on his com­pet­i­tive de­but for young­ster Daniel Croarkin put the ic­ing on the cake for Saints man­ager Alex Craik as he watched his charges put ten past Ar­gyll ri­vals Camp­bel­town Pupils at Glen­cruit­ten last Satur­day af­ter­noon.

An Ar­gyll Derby had all the mak­ings of a tricky open­ing day fix­ture for Saints, how­ever the home side re­ceived a ma­jor boost when in­juries and hol­i­days forced Pupils to name a vir­tu­ally un­recog­nis­able lineup.

Only four play­ers re­mained from the cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture last sea­son with the ab­sence of Gary Gru­moli, Pupils top scorer for the past eight sea­sons, a sig­nif­i­cant omis­sion.

Saints wel­comed back Wil­lie Gem­mell and Dean Smith to the squad that nar­rowly lost out in the Ar­gyll and Bute Cup the pre­vi­ous week. Also mak­ing a wel­come re­turn was skip­per Marc Maccal­lum missing through in­jury since the D&K Laf­ferty Cup.

Marc won the toss of ref­eree Jimmy Lit­ster’s coin and elected to kick off at­tack­ing the rail­way end. Glen­cruit­ten had suc­cess­fully passed an early morn­ing pitch in­spec­tion and was in re­mark­ably good con­di­tion given the re­cent heavy rain which con­tin­ued to fall be­fore even­tu­ally clear­ing away af­ter the open­ing 10 min­utes.

Saints made a slug­gish start and sur­vived a scare in the fifth minute when the visi­tors al­most pun­ished some docile de­fend­ing at a free kick. Paul Kerr was pe­nalised for a foul on Ryan McCon­nachie 30 yards from goal and slightly right of cen­tre. Pupils took the free kick quickly send­ing Martin McCal­lum tear­ing off up the right wing and catch­ing the Saints de­fence asleep. McCal­lum sent a dan­ger­ous cross into the box which was turned goal­ward and cleared off the line be­fore Ryan Gilchrist fired the loose ball nar­rowly wide of Thomas Mc­Cul­loch’s left hand post.

Saints were even­tu­ally awo­ken from their slum­ber by some stern words from the side­lines from Gaffer Craik. They tested Robert Coffield in the Pupils goal for the first time in the eighth minute. Craig MacEwan flicked on a Wil­lie Gem­mell pass into the path of Don­ald Campbell who sent in a loop­ing right foot shot from 22 yards to which Coffield got both hands push­ing the ball over his cross­bar.

Ross Mait­land had two chances within a minute firstly be­ing foiled by a fin­ger tip save by Coffield af­ter cut­ting in from the right and fir­ing a low shot across the keeper. Sec­ondly mak­ing poor con­tact with an ef­fort from 16 yards screw­ing his shot wide with Coffield caught in no man’s land.

The Saints pres­sure fi­nally bore fruit in the 17th minute when Craig MacEwan stooped on the six yard line to head home a Ross Mait­land cross from the right. Ross was the provider again in the 23rd minute pick­ing out Don­ald Campbell in the box to slot past Robert Coffield to make it 2- 0.

Saints ex­pe­ri­enced mid­field tri­umvi­rate of Myles McAu­ley, Paul Kerr and Wil­lie Gem­mell were to­tally dom­i­nant in the mid­dle of the park al­low­ing Wil­lie to use his ex­cel­lent pass­ing range to good ef­fect. A rak­ing ball from Wil­lie started the move for Saints third goal in the 25th minute send­ing Craig MacEwan to­wards the bye-line wide on the right. With an ex­quis­ite touch Craig pulled the ball down and looped a cross into the six yard box for Ross Mait­land to knock into the roof of the net with his left foot.

Saints added a fourth in the 31st minute from a cor­ner kick on the right won by Don­ald Campbell. Ross Mait­land found the head of David McArthur with another good de­liv­ery with the Saints full back un­lucky to see his pow­er­ful down­ward header stopped on the line by Grant Grant. Myles McAu­ley won the ball from the Pupils de­fender and laid it back to Don­ald Campbell who thumped an em­phatic fin­ish into the net from seven yards.

The move­ment of the Saints front three had the Pupils de­fence chas­ing shad­ows and al­most im­me­di­ately from the restart only a well timed last ditch tackle from Keith Mitchell pre­vented Don­ald Campbell from adding to the scor­ing af­ter a per­fectly weighted through ball from Craig MacEwan had Don­ald bear­ing down on goal.

Saints’ in­ces­sant pres­sure told just two min­utes later when Scott Mait­land made a driv­ing run into the box pass­ing up a shoot­ing op­por­tu­nity in favour of a lay off to Don­ald Campbell. Don­ald cracked a shot off Robert Coffield’s left hand post and with the Pupils de­fence all at sea Craig MacEwan was on hand to roll the re­bound into the net for goal num­ber five.

In a qui­eter spell lead­ing up to the in­ter­val Martin McCal­lum demon­strated his shoot­ing abil­ity fizzing a free kick inches wide of Thomas Mc­Cul­loch’s right hand post be­fore ref­eree Lit­ster blew for half time.

The visi­tors man­aged to keep the Saints at­tack at bay for only nine sec­ond half min­utes be­fore Don­ald Campbell com­pleted his hat-trick. Ross Mait­land made a dev­as­tat­ing run on the right leav­ing two de­fend­ers trail­ing in his wake and flight­ing over another ex­cel­lent cross to the back post where Don­ald Campbell climbed well against Grant Grant to head back across Robert Coffield and into the postage stamp cor­ner.

Coffield was pow­er­less to stop Craig MacEwan from com­plet­ing the sec­ond hat-trick of the day when Craig made a near post run to glance Ross Mait­land’s cor­ner from the right in­side the far post for Saints sev­enth.

A rare loose fin­ish from Don­ald Campbell af­ter beat­ing the off­side trap was a let- off for the be­lea­guered Pupils de­fence. How­ever, that was only a brief stay of ex­e­cu­tion be­fore Don­ald and Ross Mait­land took their re­spec­tive goals and as­sists to­tals to four in the 62nd minute. Don­ald got the bet­ter of Shaun Gru­moli at the back post to di­vert a cross from Ross high into the net putting Saints eight goals up with 28 min­utes still to play.

De­spite be­ing to­tally out­played the visi­tors never gave up and Saints cen­tral de­fen­sive pair­ing of Marc Maccal­lum and Dene Cas­sells had to main­tain their fo­cus to pre­serve their pre­cious clean sheet.

The Gaffer with­drew Myles McAu­ley, David McArthur and Craig MacEwan giv­ing sub­sti­tutes Daniel Croarkin, Fraser Mac­Far­lane and Dean Smith a twenty five minute op­por­tu­nity to in­flu­ence pro­ceed­ings which they were to grab with both hands.

Shortly af­ter en­ter­ing the fray Daniel Croarkin made a good block on the edge of his own box to block a shot from Martin McCal­lum who had been the vis­i­tor’s most po­tent goal threat through­out.

As the match briefly threat­ened to boil over Keith Mitchell found his way into ref­eree Lit­ster’s note­book for a late chal­lenge on Paul Kerr and was closely fol­lowed by Dene Cas­sells af­ter a spot of ret­ri­bu­tion on the Pupils skip­per.

Mr Lit­ster quickly brought things un­der con­trol be­fore Saints once more in­creased the pres­sure on the Pupils goal. All three Saints sub­sti­tutes were in­volved in the build up for the ninth goal with Daniel Croarkin fin­ish­ing off the move show­ing good strength on the ball to force his way into the box and calmly slot past the Pupils keeper from ten yards.

Young Daniel made it a dream de­but dou­ble in the 88th minute head­ing a Don­ald Campbell cross from the left high into the net to com­plete the scor­ing and send Saints into dou­ble fig­ures.

Ref­eree Jimmy Lit­ster, who suc­cess­fully kept the lid on a highly com­pet­i­tive Ar­gyll derby, ended the agony for Pupils al­low­ing only a bare min­i­mum of stop­page time be­fore blow­ing the final whis­tle.

De­spite the em­phatic score­line full credit must go to the de­pleted Pupils team who kept plug­ging away all af­ter­noon and will hope to be back to full strength be­fore their next two ex­tremely daunt­ing fix­tures against St Joseph’s and East Kil­bride.

Man­ager Alex Craik was de­lighted with the per­for­mance of his team. He said: ‘De­spite a slug­gish start we played some great stuff to­day. Some of the in­ter-pass­ing and run­ning off the ball was ex­cel­lent and ev­ery­body worked re­ally hard for each other. We pressed high up the park and never let their de­fence set­tle on the ball. I know they weren’t at full strength but I’m sure they will turn the cor­ner when they get their full squad back.’

Next up for Saints is a visit to face newly pro­moted Mother­well This­tle at Wishaw Sports Cen­tre, kick- off 2pm.

Don­ald Campbell is con­grat­u­lated by Myles McAu­ley, Paul Kerr, David McArthur, Ross Mait­land and Craig MacEwan af­ter the Saints striker had scored his third goal of the game.

Saints skip­per Marc Maccal­lum con­grat­u­lates young Daniel Croarkin on scor­ing his sec­ond and his team’s tenth goal against Camp­bel­town Pupils.

Ross Mait­land, who had a great game for Saints on the right flank leaves Alan Glendin­ning in his wake.

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